‘Spirit of compassion’ is Best exemplified

January 21

About 50 people gathered at the Soul Cafe Sunday evening to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a free supper and a message from guest speaker, Bishop Edmond L. Browning of the Episcopal church.

The ecumenical gathering was at the invitation of Gorge Ecumenical Ministries (GEM), a group of representitives from 14 area ministries working toward Christian unity.

The evening began with a special celebration of FISH Food Bank volunteers for their service to the community. Each volunteer received a fish-decorated magnet as a token gift of appreciation.

A very surprised and touched Irene Best received a special “Lifetime Service Award,” from GEM and FISH Food Bank for her 24 years of continuous service to the food bank.

“The name Irene Best has become so closely associated with the food bank, it’s hard to think of one without the other,” said Marianne Durkan, representing St. Mary’s Church in GEM, when announcing the award. Rev. Christina Fridel, GEM president, presented Best with a bouquet of flowers and an engraved clear plaque.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Best said, quite affected by the honor. “Thank you so much.”

Another person honored at the gathering was Lou DeSitter, a member of St. Mary’s Church, who was named “GEM Church Person of the Year.” DeSitter was honored for his extensive volunteer work in the community.

The Right Rev. Browning’s theme for the evening was on the responsibility of the religious community in times of terrorism. He examined roots of terrorism — why they hate us, and why they resort to “illegimate ways” to change their lot — and what he feels is the greatest sin the church has to face: apathy.

Browning shared many of his experiences in South Africa and elsewhere around the globe, visiting refugee camps, an AIDS ward, and homeless shelters, where he found himself asking the question, “Does anybody care?”

“To make a difference in the world today, the world’s churches, individually and collectively, must possess the spirit of compassion,” Rev. Browning said. “Compassion breaks down the walls that apathy makes.”

The Soul Cafe, a non-profit coffee shop in the Oak Street Mall, holds free suppers every Sunday where a different theme is explored each week.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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